I’m going to veer from the typical posts we share on The Buzz Bin, but attempt to keep with the spirit in which this blog is intended. And that is: To provide an informed and thoughtful point of view on an issue, topic or trend to encourage readers to see a different side, deepen his or her understanding, or maybe learn something new.

Earlier this week, I was lucky to attend a screening for “RBG,” a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that opens in theaters today. Admittedly, I knew absolutely nothing about her personal life and not much more about her professional background. Especially her groundbreaking work on gender equality in the 1970s. To me, she’s part of what’s considered the “liberal wing” of the court who in recent years has unexpectedly become a pop culture figure. (Check-out Kate McKinnon spoof her on SnL if you don’t believe me!)

Men need to do more than simply be supportive and cheer-on female colleagues from sidelines.Click To Tweet

In the remarks before the film began, the male speaker read a quote of hers that thunder-struck me in its blatant obviousness. And that is: “Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” What resonated with me is that men need to do more than simply be supportive and cheer-on female colleagues from sidelines. We need to act and do something to propel equality, which is only made more urgent by the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. As a leader in my firm who has been involved in the food industry for over 20 years, it made me think about what I could do to affect change.

In November 2017, McKinsey & Co. released its “Women in the Food Industry” report to shine a bright light on this topic across all aspects of the food business. Here are a few highlights:

  • Women make up 49 percent of employees at the entry level.
  • Yet at the top, women represent only 23 percent of the food industry’s C-suite executives.
  • Twenty percent fewer women than men in the food industry reach the first promotion to manager, a finding consistent beyond the food industry.
  • Women make up only 25 percent of external VP hires and 29 percent of external SVP hires.

When you look at the food industry across the primary subsectors, the results expose the widespread and pervasive gender inequality within each of them and at every level.

“Women’s Foodservice Forum is putting a stake in the ground on women’s empowerment with a bold initiative to make the food industry the first to close the gender equity gap and lead the way for other industries,” said Hattie Hill, President and CEO.

The results in the Operators (i.e., restaurant) subsector are much more encouraging with significant progress made in the past 10 years. For instance, according to the National Research Association, over 60 percent of American women have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their life. And 33 percent of restaurant businesses are majority-owned by women while 46 percent of managers are female. Yet, the percentage of female CEOs at public restaurant companies fell to three of the 56 companies tracked by Nation’s Restaurant News, a drop from nearly 11 percent to 5 percent in 2017.

There are numerous articles about the important role men must play to create gender parity. A simple Google search of how men can support gender equality results in pages of stories, suggestions and tips. And the research making the business case is just as formidable if one needs further convincing.

I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing women through out my career as colleagues, co-workers and team members. I’ve had four tremendous bosses since I started working—all of them women and all of them challenged me, believed in me and advocated for my advancement. In honor of all of these exceptional people, I joined the Women’s Foodservice Forum today and look forward to volunteering on its recently announced effort to “Lead the Way” to gender equality.

What can you do to affect change?

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